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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  July 29, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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on the broadcast tonight, down to the wire on a debt deal in congress. is there enough time to get a deal hashed out and voted on before time runs out? down the road. the government and america's car companies did do something this week that will have a huge impact on anybody who drives. suffer the children. a situation so dire, newborns are being abandoned on the roadside. and "making a difference," a little girl's dream of saving other children catches on in ways she never could have imagined. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
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good evening. i'm lester holt, in tonight for brian. in president obama's words, we are almost out of time, and as he made another appeal for compromise on a bill to raise the nation's borrowing limit, the house and senate were barreling down parallel tracks today, with the end of the line tuesday, the day after the u.s. could be unable to pay all its bills and risk an unprecedented default. after fits and starts, the republican-led house tonight passed its own revised plan to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending. >> ayes are 218. the nays are 210. the bill is passed. without objection, a motion to reconsider is laid upon the table. >> but that plan doesn't cut the mustard in the senate, which has its own bill. tonight, it seems almost certain that any compromise deal will be right up against the deadline. in other words, there is no more margin left. nbc's kelly o'donnell is on capitol hill to tell us more now. kelly? >> reporter: well, lester, the drama has been down to the wire,
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the political kind with all the fiery talk. the real world kind with the cc: threat of default in the air, and so late today, john boehner was finally able to do what he had been stumbling through for days, bringing that vote to the house floor. and with no democrats on board, boehner had to bend pretty far to get even some of his own republicans on board. speaker john boehner flashed a smile this morning. >> good morning. >> reporter: but the mood was sour and uncertain. >> is there a chance we'll become adult leaders and we'll run the government the way you would run your household budget? i hope. >> reporter: house republicans were summoned to a strategy session. >> do you think it will get done today? >> i sure hope so. it is getting late in the game. >> reporter: after thursday night's late night arm twisting failed to get a debt deal that would pass. then more controversy, boehner added a balanced budget constitutional amendment, necessary to win over some conservatives. >> i am, i absolutely am enthusiastic, yes.
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>> reporter: but a balanced budget amendment is toxic to senate democrats. >> this is the most outrageous suggestion i have heard. >> reporter: the president rejoined the debate with a clearly softer appeal for compromise. >> there are plenty of ways out of this mess, but we are almost out of time. >> reporter: but he also turned up the heat. >> make a phone call, send an e-mail, tweet. >> reporter: using that bully pulpit to say, burn up the phone lines on capitol hill. >> speaker boehner's office, how can i help you? >> people will call in and be anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. >> reporter: off the hook, georgia republican phil gingrey's office after he turned from no to yes. >> appreciate it. >> reporter: on twitter, the president's re-election team gave out republican members' contact info, state by state. waiting to act, the senate, where democrats are in charge. >> compromise is not a bad word. so it is time for us to act cc1: together and we hold our arms out to my republican colleagues. >> reporter: late today, the speaker made his final appeal. >> i stuck my neck out a mile to
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try to get an agreement with the president of the united states. >> reporter: and in a thundering reaction to boehner's speech, republicans standing up, democrats booing, he called on the president, the administration and senate democrats to turn their ideas into actual legislation. now that all this moves over to the senate for the next step before the deadline early next week. lester? >> kelly o'donnell on the hill, thanks. nbc's chief white house correspondent chuck todd joins me now. chuck, it is friday evening, tuesday is the deadline. talk about what kind of weekend this will be in washington and how this will play out. >> reporter: well, it is going to be a long weekend. in fact, there is even a joke that maybe they'll bring cots into the united states senate. here's what's going on now. tonight, lots of back channel negotiations between senate democratic leader harry reid and senate republican leader mitch mcconnell. harry reid has to file a bill by midnight tonight to try to guarantee a couple of votes and get this bill out of the senate. after he amends it, his version of this bill, and back to the
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house by monday. why? because the house probably needs a good 24 hours to get it passed and on to the president's desk in time for the midnight deadline, august 2nd into august 3rd. what are we watching for? tonight, at least five republican senators we know of have publicly talked about working with harry reid on this compromise. lisa murkowski of alaska, bob corker of tennessee, roy blunt of missouri, john thune of south dakota, scott brown of massachusetts. they're publicly out there. we do know privately a handful of others. so you see how this coalition is going to come together. the question is how big will it be in order to get it so you get a bipartisan vote on the -- out of the house there, lester? >> chuck todd at the white house, thanks. now back to the economic data we got today. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy rose just 1.3% this spring. that's weak. and below what economists had forecast. the really bad news came in the revised number for the first
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quarter of this year, 0.4%. the economy was basically flat lining. this didn't help matters on wall street today. the dow was down under 97 points. the nasdaq was down almost 10 points. the s&p 500 fell more than 8, capping the worst week for the markets in a year. cnbc's david faber joins me now. there is no way to sugar coat the numbers. is the bottom line was the recession deeper than any of us thought? >> the recession was very, very deep. we had a very difficult time climbing out of it, no doubt. in fact, more difficult than many people had even anticipated given the numbers you mentioned, lester. job creation, as people know at home, is very, very slow. and consumer demand continues to be rather slow. in the first half of this year, especially the second quarter, the consumer was dealing with higher oil prices, not willing perhaps to spend as much given how much the price at the pump was going up. we're also in the middle of earnings season on wall street. while names like apple and amazon and google are making lots of money, the industrial economy, companies like illinois tool works, caterpillar, they're not saying particularly good things about the future. that gives us pause in terms of
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the second half of the year. >> we have been watching the stock market, some reaction, nervousness to the whole debt crisis. is it reaching down to the consumer yet, is the nervousness beginning to spread? >> i don't know that the consumer is not buying something based on the debates in washington. but i will tell you that ceos that make decisions about investing and hiring, while demand is the key for them, if they see it coming, they will make those investments. nonetheless, what is going on in washington, it does add that word uncertainty that we hear so often. and it does delay those decisions. >> david faber from cnbc, thanks for being with us tonight. appreciate it. all the anxiety and uncertainty in washington is taking a toll on wall street and on main street as well. nbc's ron allen joins me now from detroit with more on that. ron? >> reporter: good evening, lester. so many people we talked to said they are concerned about interest rates rising on home mortgages, on credit cards. worried about their 401(k) plans taking yet another hit. especially here in the midwest, cities like chicago and here in detroit, where they finally are
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beginning to see some signs of the economy picking back up. the lunch crowd at detroit's 1917 american bistro has been pretty steady lately. a great indicator for owner donald studvent who lost his auto job and started his own business about two years ago. now he sees what is happening in washington as a real threat. >> i opened with two employees. now i have 24 employees. and i want to continue growing. >> the politicians have let partisanship get in the way of solutions. >> reporter: craig shields says what he calls the debacle in d.c. already is hurting his small machine factory in chicago, by driving down the value of the u.s. dollar and making the steel, copper and other materials essential to his business more expensive. after expanding last year, d.c. has made him slow down. >> they don't understand how uncertainty really affects you when you're looking forward. >> real estate is such a huge part of our economy.
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>> reporter: realtor donna schwann says sales have been some 50% ahead of last year. but the brinksmanship in d.c. has caused buyers to stop calling, worried that mortgage rates will rise. >> they seem nervous again about their jobs. and the people that we had to write offers and in some cases didn't. >> reporter: analysts say a lower u.s. credit rating could also force interest rates up on some credit cards, auto and student loans. caution also is what financial planner gwendolyn kirkland says she's seeing, with clients closely watching their portfolios, the markets and hoping washington gets it right. >> they still are collectively holding their breath and just waiting for that deal to be inked, to go through both houses of congress and to be signed off so that we don't have just a patch work. >> reporter: even if there is a deal reached at the last hour, there is still the possibility
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of the credit rating agencies downgrading the u.s. and pushing interest rates up. the bottom line is that most people that we talked to say they have confidence in the u.s. economy long term and they say exactly the opposite about the politicians in washington. lester? >> ron allen in detroit tonight, thank you. brian williams had unprecedented behind the scenes access on capitol hill earlier this week. he'll have an hour long primetime special called "taking the hill inside congress." it airs sunday night at 7:00, 6:00 central, and we'll have a preview a bit later on in this broadcast. there is one agreement we can report tonight that will have a very big impact on america's roads and drivers. after months of negotiations with the government, carmakers including detroit's big three have agreed to a very ambitious new set of goals for fuel efficiency. there was a time when carmakers went to washington to lobby against this kind of change. times have changed. chief environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson joins us tonight from a honda dealership in queens, new york. anne? >> reporter: good evening, lester.
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what this agreement means is that in showrooms of the future you're going to see vehicles that use a lot less gasoline and reduce by half the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they put into the air. those are the emissions that cause climate change. now, today, companies like honda, ford, gm, they have to meet an average fuel economy standard of 27.3 miles per gallon. that is going to double by 2025 to 54.5 miles per gallon. it should save a family $8,000 per vehicle according to the white house, and the country as a whole, $2 trillion in fuel savings costs. now, as you said, this is very unusual because these 13 major automakers, united autoworkers union, and the government regulators have all agreed to this. these are groups of people that until a few years ago used to do hand to hand combat over the issue of fuel economy. what does it mean for the kind of cars we're going to drive in the future? well, hybrids like this honda
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crz, they'll be on the road, fuel cell vehicles, electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, but we'll also see administration officials say more significantly more efficient internal combustion engine vehicles. lester? >> anne thompson. anne, thank you. it has been a week since the bombing and shooting massacre in norway. the final death count now 77. today, first of many funerals were held in oslo for an 18-year-old girl. as she was buried, the killer, anders breivik, faced his second police interrogation. there is new attention on where he may have gotten his ammunition. he claims in his manifesto he bought his bullets from america, by mail order, ten clips with 30 bullets each, far more than you can legally buy in norway. you can see a full report from nbc's martin fletcher on our website, nightly.msnbc.com. president obama today spoke out about the haunting images and heart breaking stories we have been bringing you every day this week from somalia and other nations in east africa.
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millions of people are at risk of starving to death in the midst of famine. and the president today said the crisis has not gotten the attention that it should here in the u.s. we intend to keep covering the story. tonight, more on the children caught in a situation so dire, many are being abandoned. nbc's rohit kachroo has been covering the story for weeks and has our report. >> reporter: it is the children of east africa suffering most during this famine. and though it might not seem it, these are the lucky ones, with their families, they made it to the hospital for help. for those who don't, their fate is often far worse. that was almost the case with this 1-month-old, but when he was 4 days old, he was abandoned by the side of a dusty road near dadaab. his mother likely died from hunger along the way. but he was found by another refugee who took him to the police station, then agreed to foster him herself.
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she says she instantly realized that this was a child who needed the help of a mother and she named him nased because it means lucky in her dialect. she has seven children of her own. they walked with her for two weeks from mogadishu. but she says she treats her eighth child just like the others. i love him as much as my own children, she says. i never let him out of my sight. the health worker visits him. he's breathing well and he's put on weight. in just a few weeks, he's recovered from malnutrition. >> reporter: life in dadaab can be punishing, but in his short life, nased experienced how much worse things can be. here, conditions are poor. it is crammed with refugees, short of food and water, but not short of a mother's love. rohit kachroo, nbc news, dadaab.
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when we come back, one of the few times people are actually rooting for a tropical storm to come ashore. later a young girl's determination to help bring clean water to those who need it, "making a difference."
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it is not every day you hear people hoping that a big storm will get bigger and stronger before it comes ashore. but tonight in texas, tropical storm don is on its way, bringing something they desperately need, rain. weather channel meteorologist
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mike seidel joins me now from north padre island. mike? >> reporter: hey, lester. this evening very few have left the south texas coast ahead of tropical storm don as it is set to make landfall this evening between brownsville and corpus christi. the only evacuations so far have been a couple of beachfront campgrounds on the coast. look at don on the satellite radar composite. a 50-mile-an-hour tropical storm moving west/northwest at 16 but wind shear, strong winds aloft and dry air have kept it from strengthening so coastal impacts will be minimal. texas needs the rain badly as you mentioned, but most of it is south of don's center and will fall across deep south texas. that means no relief for most of the state that is in its worst drought in almost 50 years. 75% of texas in the worst drought category, exceptional, and those areas need at least 15 inches of rain just to put a dent in the drought. ranchers are sending their livestock to market early because they lack grass, rain and water for feed. the drought has been so severe that the u.s. department of
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agriculture declared the entire state of texas a natural disaster. and, lester, tonight, the lack of rainfall from don has dashed the hopes of many texans tired of the triple digit heat. lester? >> mike seidel, thank you. when we come back here tonight, a caring and generous little girl who inspired thousands of others to help reach her goal, and then some.
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all this week we have been reporting on heart breaking stories of suffering from the drought and starvation in east africa, like the one we brought you a bit earlier in this broadcast. outside seattle, a 9-year-old girl who had similar stories decided she could help. she could do her part by forgoing birthday presents and raising money for clean drinking water for other kids. last weekend, that little girl lost her own life in a tragic accident. but that's not where the story ends. nbc's lee cowan explains how even now rachel beckwith continues to "make a difference." >> reporter: you might think this story starts and ends on the cold shoulder of i-90 near seattle, where a polka dot cross now marks the spot of a terrible accident. but it actually started last month, just before rachel beckwith's 9th birthday. instead of asking for a gift, she wanted to give one. clean water to thirsty kids in faraway lands.
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>> her big crazy goal is to raise $300 so that 15 kids in africa would have clean, safe water. >> reporter: she raised $220 just $80 short of her goal. she resolved to try again next year. but then came the accident. too violent for even the biggest of hearts to survive. >> i don't think you have to be a parent to not be able to wrap your mind around this intense pain. we all want to do whatever we can. >> reporter: the best memorial, they figured, was just to keep rachel's water drive going. so they did. and then came the flood. her story spread, on twitter, and facebook. the tally grew. first by the day, then by the minute. the owner of this hair salon in yorba linda, california, donated because he says rachel's story mattered. >> it just amazes me that someone, a 9-year-old girl, a small child, can have such a monumental impact. >> reporter: well over $600,000 has been donated in rachel's name.
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charity water has never seen anything like it. >> a little girl with a dream of helping others, considering others more important than herself, inspiring tens of thousands of people around the world to give. >> reporter: if there is any consolation for her inconsolable parents, it may just be that their daughter touched more lives by 9 years old than most of us will in a lifetime. lee cowan, nbc news, seattle. if you want to learn more about rachel's dream, and how to contribute yourself, go to our website, nightly.msnbc.com. we'll be right back. cc1:
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before we leave you tonight, a reminder the entire nbc news team will be closely following the debate in congress and the reaction across america on the fix for the nation's financial crisis. and brian williams, as we mentioned, spent a full day behind the scenes on capitol hill earlier this week as this epic battle waged on for an hour long "dateline" special to air sunday night. here's a preview. >> it's been a tough week. it's been a tough couple of months for that matter. but as i told my members yesterday, i'm a happy warrior. >> welcome to the capitol.
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>> nice to meet you. >> well, my concern is for the middle class. >> we should turn around. >> welcome. where are you from? >> all right, we're making a mess of this place. >> how different the room looks. >> what do you do if you got a job to do and you've got members of the tea party caucus who are way out here who don't even agree that this could cause economic armageddon? senator, senator. >> that's just a taste of what you'll see in brian's primetime special report "taking the hill inside congress" on sunday, 7:00, 6:00 central time. that's our broadcast for this friday night. thank you for being with us. before we go, a big congratulations to our executive producer bob epstein on his last night on this program as he takes on a new leadership role with the nbc news specials unit. for brian williams and all of us at nbc, thanks, bob, and good night, everyone.
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